Tuesday, July 3, 2018

REVIEW: 'Love Is ___' - Nuri Is Forthcoming About Her Romantic Past While Yasir Keeps His Secrets in 'Her Questions'

OWN's Love Is ___ - Episode 1.03 "Her Questions"

Nuri and Yasir's time together is interrupted and Yasir faces another setback. Later, Yasir is shocked to find Ruby in pain following a surgery, which causes him to miss his date with Nuri. When Nuri investigates his whereabouts, she makes an unexpected discovery.

Love Is has certainly presented a very whirlwind romance for its two leads. Yasir and Nuri have been through so much together in just a few days. They were willing to throw everything else away just to explore their romantic connection together. It is exciting watching the two of them at the top of "Her Questions" just enjoying each other's company following their date at the concert. It's very romantic and sexual. But it's also just so sweet and unexpected when they start laughing and pull away from each other the moment that they realize it is Ramadan. Again, that perspective and moment is something that is rarely seen in the entertainment industry. Television and film rarely tell stories about people of color or of the Islamic faith. This is different and it is very refreshing. It's the show normalizing that kind of relationship and completely respecting it. Nuri is non-practicing with her faith. She doesn't observe any religious rituals. But she understands the importance of completing Ramadan for Yasir. She knows that he wants to abide by the rules of fasting and avoiding any kind of impure actions from sunrise to sunset. Sure, she is baffled by how he could go all day without eating or drinking anything - especially after they spend the morning tearing off the wall paper in her new house. And yet, she is also willing to observe the day with him. That's special even though her body isn't trained to do that right now. That too highlights how there are still so many things that Yasir and Nuri don't know about each other. That is the focus of this episode. Everyone is questioning how they can be in love when they don't even know some of the basics about the other person. Nuri's mother has all of these questions in order to map out their relationship and Nuri can't tell her anything. She can't quite put into words what their connection is and how it makes her feel. She just knows that she loves Yasir after just a few days together. She feels this special connection that must be cherished.

However, this episode is also pointing out that Nuri is very open and honest about her life while Yasir is still being very prideful and keeping things from her. That's dangerous and could risk this connection falling apart. It won't because the audience knows that everything will ultimately work out. But it's important to highlight this fight and where the two of them were in their lives back in 1997. Nuri had this job writing on Marvin and was more than capable of owning her own house and living a fulfilling life. She had all of these opportunities in order to explore a number of romantic connections. It's a very humorous moment when the phone keeps ringing and guys that she has been seeing leave messages. That's the show using the humor of the technology from the past to its benefit. It's funny because Nuri doesn't want to listen to these messages or have her history on full display for Yasir. And yet, she is now forced to talk openly about how many guys she has been seeing and what she is going to do in order to prove that she still loves Yasir. Of course, it's a moment of condemnation as well because Nuri has to prove that she isn't just teasing Yasir around. She has to prove her love and devotion to him as if all of this time spent together wasn't enough. But she does assuage his fears that she is still seeing all of these guys and saying "I love you" to all of them. She highlights her relationships with Will, Keith and Derek. She outlines why all of them happened and what was going to happen. She doesn't care about anyone the same way that she cares about Yasir. As such, there is nothing for him to worry about. Sure, he gets up on his high horse to talk about the complicated gender politics of the world when it comes to dating and people not saying what they mean or are after. But he gets down from there very quickly as well.

The loving connection between Yasir and Nuri is only broken for the moment because Angela calls to say that she's about to meet a guy she met on the internet. It being the '90s means that this is just a new form of technology that Nuri doesn't trust in the slightest. That hasn't changed a whole lot in the 20 years since even though it has become much more popular and normalized. The fears are still the same. Nuri worries that her best friend from work is about to meet a serial killer who has lured her into a trap. Even when Nuri tells Angela to wait an extra five minutes, Angela goes ahead and meets the guy in an aisle of the hardware store. It's just an innocuous meeting where Angela is testing to see how handy this guy is considering she needs some improvements on the house she has just bought as well. But it's also abundantly clear that the two of them were lying to each other online. Of course, the audience knows Angela's lies to be lies. She told him that she actually helped people with their taxes. As such, Nuri has to play along with that story once she shows up. Angela is ultimately glad that she does and that she has a friend who is so willing to do absolutely anything to help her get out of this date. But that only highlights that Angela believes this guy to be lying even though she doesn't have any proof. Of course, she has to trust her instincts as well. If she's not feeling a connection, she should be fine leaving. Nuri is the one who wants Angela to give the guy a chance because he seems nice. That plays into the idea that Nuri is always open to exploring these romantic connections not knowing what they might turn into. As such, it's understandable why she got swept up into the moment when she professed her love for Yasi.

As such, it needs to be said that Yasir isn't very forthcoming about a whole lot in his life right now. He doesn't tell Nuri that he is essentially homeless and that his car has just broken down in front of her house. He is able to play it all as him being unable to leave her. He is so madly in love with her that he can't get behind the wheel and drive away. He must stay near her for as long as he can. It's the story that she glosses onto the situation because she too is madly in love. As such, the blinders are on when it comes to seeing things for as they really are. She simply doesn't notice all of the things in his car that would make it pretty obvious that he had been living in there. Instead, she is choosing to see the romantic side of things. Of course, she can't be completely ignorant about Ruby either. She knows that he is living with another woman. In fact, he openly shares that she is his ex-girlfriend. He doesn't want to focus on the past or what this living situation means. He just wants to live in the moment with his new love. He doesn't want to interrupt her life in order to get the help he desperately needs right now. He is still playing into the story of Nuri being the lifeline he needed in order to pull himself up into a better life. As such, he is willing to extend that generous spirit to someone else who needs it. It just means that he's too busy caring for Ruby instead of meeting Nuri for their next date. They make plans and Yasir chooses to watch over Ruby after learning that she got liposuction surgery without really telling anyone. It may be a foolish decision she made to change her body to help her career prospects. She is changing her shape in order to fit in with the white women of the yoga world. But it's absolutely painful now and she needs Yasir to help her through this traumatic experience. He is glad to help a friend through a difficult time as well. It just happens to be unfortunate that he can't remember Nuri's number or has the paper with it written down. As such, he leaves her waiting all alone at the place where they had their first magical moments together.

Moreover, Nuri's mother doesn't believe her daughter could be in love with someone if she doesn't even know his last name or when his birthday is. Of course, that's the very specific advice from a woman who cares immensely about astrology and what the signs from the universe say. But it's something that truly gets to Nuri as well. She spirals after not hearing from or being able to get ahold of Yasir after getting stood up. She is even desperate enough to call the police and emergency rooms wondering what happened to him. She just couldn't believe that he would bail on her without calling. He didn't mean to do that. But that's also besides the point. He is keeping vital information from her and that's no way to start a relationship. She is able to track him down to his former apartment with Ruby based on all of the evidence left behind in his car. He was only able to roll it down the street a little bit not knowing that that neighbor is extremely nosy. As such, Nuri gets the answers to what Yasir's last name is and where he is living. And yet, she still needs to know key details about his past especially in regards to his former relationships and whether or not he is actually serious about his love for her. She deserves to have those answers as well. He can't give them to her because he wants to be respectful of both women in his life. He doesn't want to create more drama. But that just leaves Nuri feeling heartbroken by this stranger she has decided to love. His answers may bring some comfort eventually. She will need that clarity and understanding of what his life is like before being able to move forward with this relationship. And that's a very important step for the two of them as a couple. They need to be open about absolutely everything in their lives moving forward.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Her Questions" was written by Mara Brock Akil and directed by Tanya Hamilton.
  • Nuri faces absolutely no consequences for leaving work early during the taping of the recent episode. She worries that her boss is about to call and fire her for not doing her job. She does get a call from Norman too. And yet, he is only there to call about the team doing an excellent job pulling that episode out quickly and that he has decided to give all of the writers the day off. As such, she is able to spend even more time with Yasir, Angela and her mother.
  • Do relationships that start online where one of the people lies about a significant detail about their life ever actually end well? It's bound to become a huge fight if the person actually finds someone significant that way. Angela isn't really putting herself out there as her genuine self. She's just looking for whatever she needs right now. She proves that it's not an inherently bad place to find romance. But she also sees no value in pursuing this date any further.
  • Yasir prides himself as being a good listener when it comes to spending time with Nuri. And yet, Ruby's whole story and willingness to get liposuction proves that he's not always the best at listening and understanding. He thought just because he told her she was beautiful that that was enough to calm these fears in her head. He wasn't there for her when she really needed it. And now, he is making up for lost time by proving he can still be relied on as a friend.
  • Nuri states that she doesn't want to have sex with anyone in her new house until she knows that that person is going to be her husband. She states that rule to Yasir even though she loves him. That too is a very telling statement that she still feels there are enough reasons to keep her from having sex with him. Ramadan produces a convenient excuse. But this feeling is also important and should be explored.
  • The end of the premiere introduced the fact that Yasir has a kid out there somewhere. Of course, the show has offered up no explanation for where that child is or why Yasir isn't a part of his or her life. It's just used as this additional secret that is bound to come out at any moment in time. The show has teased it enough for the audience to be aware of it moving forward. But answers still need to be forthcoming too.